Of my 52 past roommates, only one was really hard to love.  For instance, our house’s only swamp cooler was in her room, and during the summer we lived together, she would turn the cooler on, shut her doors, and tell us it wasn’t running.  But at night I could feel the air coming out from her room, cold around the edges of the door.  All summer, our utility bills were high.

I sat on our porch swing one day, considering the situation.  Trying to love her—standing in our kitchen, talking to her on our couches, sitting in the breakfast nook—was hard.  It felt like my heart would reach out, reach out, reach out, and touch hers just barely—only to pull back again.  To snap back.  The way pizza dough amply rolls and then suddenly withdraws.  So close so close so close, but not enough to cover the edges of the pan.

I decided on that porch swing that I wanted a heart like infinite dough.  (This, I will admit, is perhaps too cute of a metaphor, but it is a felt one.)  A heart like infinite dough could cover the world.  It could be rolled broad and deep and far enough to make what I guess I was envisioning as one giant love calzone, with all humanity as the filling.  A heart like infinite dough.

Most of us are already trying to grow this.  We get up each day and work to stretch our hearts to meet the love needs of those around us.  I figure that process is essentially a two-step:

Step 1: Feel love for said person.
Step 2: Help said person feel loved.

The people for whom we’re two-stepping comprise our love dockets.  A love docket is the usually unwritten list of people we’re (sometimes only semi-) actively trying to love better.  Roommates, spouses, co-workers, acquaintances, grandmothers, that security guard at work, etc.

One of my favorite questions to ask is, “Who are you trying to love right now with whom it is not going well?”  (However, I will not tell you my answer to this question right now because I do not want anyone on my love docket to feel like a project.  This is not a project.  This is my heart.)

My love docket has been small lately.  I’m not sure how to feel about that.  But I decided last weekend when I was on vacation with friends that I needed to take advantage of the in-house opportunity I had to work on new loving.  So I prayed at night and in the mornings, “Please help me to love X better.  Please help us to have a time to talk and help her/him to feel my love.  Please.  Amen.”

My point is this: Last weekend, I saw God answer my love docket prayers.  As He always has, as He always does.  Always.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this earth, it’s this: To love people better is a prayer God always answers.